British Virgin Islands

Monday, Oct 26, 2020

How affordable are masks in BVI? Some local stores double the prices

How affordable are masks in BVI? Some local stores double the prices

Since the inception of the mandatory rule to wear protective face masks while in public, some local stores are charging what can be described considerably higher prices on these items in comparison to other establishments.

In a recent BVI News visit to several stores and pharmacies, our news centre discovered that the price of masks at some establishments cost up to twice as much at others.

This could mean some residents potentially spending more for the protective gear.

Take, for example, one major Road Town-based pharmacy who, for the purposes of this article, will only be named as ‘Major Pharmacy A’. It sells a single three-layered surgical mask for $3 while its counterpart ‘Pharmacy B’ -which operates on Virgin Gorda -sells the same mask for $1.50 apiece.

Operating under the guidelines of the World Health Organisation -which states that surgical masks are for single-use only -the average local worker who ventures outside their home five days per week could spend a minimum monthly cost of $30 for 20 masks if they buy the items at Pharmacy B.

Twenty of the same masks would cost $60 at Major Pharmacy A.


List of mask prices at various stores

Other stores, in the meantime, sell their masks in packs. Our news centre’s discreet shopper visited some of these establishments and collated the prices of surgical masks as wells N95 masks. At least one study has shown that N95s can be safely decontaminated for reuse two or three times, without compromising its functional integrity.

Below are some of the prices that our news centre recorded. The actual names of the local establishments visited will not be publicised.

A Fish Bay retail store sells one surgical mask for $1.99 and an N95 mask for $8.99. A pack of 10 surgical masks costs $14.95 at a Purcell store while an N95 mask costs $7.99.

A store with multiple outlets in the BVI sells a box containing 50 masks for $59.99. The cost of a single disposable surgical mask at one pharmacy in Road Town is $3, while its N95 masks cost $5 each. A box containing 20 N95 masks at the said establishment costs $80.

One Virgin Gorda pharmacy sells a surgical mask for $1.50 and an N95 mask for $7.99. Another well-known pharmacy in Road Town sells its surgical masks for $3 each, and an N95 mask cost $10 each.


No complaints to Trade Department

Notably, American e-commerce conglomerate Amazon lists the price for a 50-pack surgical mask at only $12.99 while a pack of three N95 masks costs $7.99.

When asked recently whether her department has received any complaints on the prices of masks Director of Trade Karia Christopher told our news centre: “No complaints received to my knowledge.”

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